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Lebanon: Its course toward new era is encouraging

UN envoy leaves Lebanon encouraged by its course toward new era

Following a series of high-level meetings in Beirut, a senior United Nations envoy departed Lebanon today saying he is encouraged that the country is charting the proper course towards stability and urging all concerned to forge ahead in unity.

‘The boat that is Lebanon is now well on its way across the ocean,’ said Special Envoy Terje Roed-Larsen. ‘All the oarsmen must continue to row together and in complete unison, for the sake of the boat’s safety and successful journey.’

He stressed that the Lebanese will be guided by the ‘North Star’ of their Taif Agreement as well as Security Council Resolution 1559, which supports its aims. ‘By doing so, the Lebanese are also moving into what is truly a new historical era: that of sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity, and political independence,’ he said.

Mr. Roed-Larsen said ‘we all are witnesses of history in the making, as we observe the National Dialogue and the subsequent implementation of the agreements reached’ and stressed that at this juncture, the Lebanese must ‘look ahead to the implementation of these agreements and to the new dawn that is breaking.

‘The remnants of the past must not tie them down.’

Mr. Roed Larsen said he was heartened by his three days of talks with senior officials in Beirut. ‘I am much encouraged by what I have heard and what I have seen here in Lebanon.’

He also repeated his support for the National Dialogue now being undertaken in Lebanon, calling it ‘truly historic and unprecedented.’

He noted in particular agreements reached through the process, including on the need to delineate the border with Syria and toe establish formal diplomatic relations. ‘This should take place as soon as possible,’ he said.

He also noted recent statements by Syrian Vice-President Farouq Sharaa that the Shebaa Farms are Lebanese territory ¨C a conclusion also reached by the UN Security Council in 2000. ‘However,’ the envoy added, ‘if both Lebanon and Syria agree that this is not the case, and ratify an agreement to this effect through due process, which they deposit with the United Nations, then the international community will not only recognize, but also support this fact.’

Mr. Roed-Larsen also lauded the agreement on the arms of Palestinian militias outside the camps, calling it ‘a tremendously significant and important step towards the implementation of resolution 1559.’ The matters of Hizbollah and the Palestinian militias and their arms should generally be dealt with through dialogue and consensus, guided by the Taif Agreement, which ended the infighting and communal violence among the Lebanese, and resolution 1559, he added.'

Mr. Roed-Larsen’s trip to Lebanon came on the heels of a 20-day tour of the capitals of the permanent members of the Security Council and Arab countries. He is scheduled to return to New York to brief UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and prepare a report to the Security Council.

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